Monday, 15 July 2019


Well after all the excitement of another wonderful Safari - and the days spent sorting through photos and videos, its now time to get back to the drawing board.

Toby, the cat I did as a 'last minute' coloured pencil drawing submission to the exhibition Jury (UK Coloured Pencil Society Int'l Exhibition) was accepted for hanging in Yorkshire next month.   It rather took me by surprise but at least I am one year closer to earning my Diamond Signature Status (acceptances into 15 Annual International Exhibitions) ... I have Gold Status which was granted once I'd had entries accepted into 10 exhibitions in 2017 with this latest acceptance I need to get into 3 more.

He's still waiting for me to sign and frame him but I'll take care of that this week.

Earlier this year I'd been contacted by two 'returning' clients wanting to commission dog portraits.   I put them off as I really wasn't able to take on commissions then.    They both contacted me last week with photos and I've had to knuckle down to some work.

Sadly the photos aren't the best so progress is slow as I'm struggling for detail.

The first portrait is a lovely Golden Retriever.  This is the 3rd or 4th commission from this client.    The favoured pose is from a nice reference photo but the dog isn't the main focus of the photo so when I zoom in for detail his image pixelates out.    I've used the photos as a base and other photos for colour detail but I just couldn't get any sense of his mouth/gums/teeth and have asked the client to look out more pictures specifically showing this area.

Original Ref.

Progress picture 1.   I'm working in pastel on Fisher 400 paper (sandpaper) to match other portraits I've done for this client.   Its an interesting surface and holds pastel well but its painful on the fingertips when you just can't cure yourself of the habit of 'blending' with fingertips!

 Progress picture 2.  Photographed in poor light so looks a bit 'pink'

Progress picture 3.   Colour is better in this photo but at this stage I've stopped until I can see other ref photos to work out what is happening with the mouth area.

Whilst waiting, I've made a start on the other commission which is a chocolate labrador.    I decided to use Pastelmat in Sienna colour which is one I don't often use as the colour looks a bit 'loud' in artificial light.    But I figured its a good base colour for the lab's fur and I'll put a simple background in to mute the colour later.

I'm working from this pose.    The photo is pretty small at 640x480 so, again, it pixelates out when I zoom in to look at detail.

I've now been given another photo (taken at a different angle) which does show a lot more detail so I'm working from the two of them.  

Progress picture 1.

 Progress picture 2.     I have to go back to work on her muzzle area and ear but wanted to get some of the body/fur colour in place.  


  1. First of all Congratulations to you on all your exhibits. You'll definitely get 3're amazing. Love the cat...and two dogs...LOVE!!!! By the way, I went through ALL those photos of the animals in Africa. I'm SO jealous that you got to see them so close... you're an amazing photographer as well as an Artist.
    I tried commenting on your trip but my computer wouldn't let I'm on my new computer which is really nice, however, I'm still learning how to use it.
    Later, I'm going through ALL your photos again ...I can't get enough of seeing all those gorgeous animals. Looking forward to seeing your finished pups.

    1. Thank you Hilda. I haven't had time to go through my Kenya photos again - too much other 'stuff' to catch up with but I'm looking forward to having a few hours free next week to take another look - and I haven't looked at the ones David (hubby) took yet.

      I posted the same pictures on FB but added descriptions/captions there. I've been asked about a couple of the animals - the grey/brown creatures with big eyes are Hyrax. Very cute, about the size of large guinea pigs/small rabbits but they are VERY noisy at night - they scream to each other and its very uncanny. The black fluffy cute 'teddy bear' is a baby hyena - its fur changes colour and the spots develop as it matures.

  2. congrats on getting accepted into the UK Coloured Pencil Society Int'l Exhibition :)

    and horrible photos is the main reason i don't do commissions, I would love to but in the past photos have been so bad I just dont anymore lol

  3. Thanks Jennifer. Its been a rubbish year with deaths/illness of family and friends so I'm just really getting back into art. Nowadays I won't accept poor photos but both these clients have commissioned portraits from me going back ten years (when I probably wasn't so fussy about photo quality)so I felt obliged to do what I can.

    Actually both dogs are alive so if the clients lived closer I'd rather have visited with my own camera and taken ref. photos but it wasn't possible. I just hate how much extra time it takes to work out all the features and detail and I'm never happy with the end result. But, so long as the clients are happy I guess thats what matters. Its been a challenge!


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